Buffalo Bills fantasy football: Preseason week 1 primer


Buffalo Bills fantasy football: Preseason week 1 primer

What should Bills fans be analyzing from a fantasy football perspective during the first preseason game of 2015?

Quarterback Play

Heading into the first preseason game, Matt Cassel will be Buffalo’s first quarterback to play against a real opponent, when the Bills host the Carolina Panthers. From a fantasy perspective, whoever ends up starting for the Bills in week one will not be on the fantasy redraft radar.

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I am not mistaking current reports of Cassel “separating” himself slightly from Tyrod Taylor and EJ Manuel as an overly positive endorsement, until I see him in some live action. While Buffalo’s quarterback position will largely be irrelevant from a fantasy football ownership perspective, it is extremely important to the effect it will have on how fantasy owners project their skill position players.

The message from the front office and the coaching staff throughout the offseason has been that the Bills will be a run-oriented offense. Essentially, Buffalo needs a quarterback who, at a minimum, will be able to move the chains on third downs. LeSean McCoy’s fantasy value this season will largely hinge on the offense being able to stay on the field.

Jul 31, 2015; Pittsford, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy (25) turns up field after catching a pass during training camp at St. John Fisher College. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

McCoy is a back that is used to receiving approximately 20 touches per game. Even if the offense is focused on the run, it won’t do the 2013 NFL rushing leader, or fantasy owners, much good if the offense can’t stay on the field.

I will be looking to see how comfortable and how efficient Cassel operates with the first team offense, against what should be a decent Panthers defense. The keys are for him to keep the offense on schedule, convert a few third downs, and perhaps lead a touchdown scoring drive,

If the former New England Patriots draft pick can do this, it would make me feel a bit more comfortable about the fantasy prospects of the Bills skill position players for the time being. All three of the Bills quarterbacks competing for the starting job should see a decent amount of playing time on Friday night, and my focus will be on which of them can keep the offense on the field in third down situations.

Karlos Williams

Starters are generally limited in the first game of the preseason, and with Fred Jackson still on the mend, this game should provide fantasy owners a glimpse of what rookie running back Karlos Williams could offer this season. The sentiment around camp is that Williams has been impressing the coaching staff throughout practice.

Williams has a shot to earn snaps at running back during the season, should he continue to shine. Bryce Brown’s fumbling issues continue to plague him, and it has been talked about in excess how Jackson is the oldest running back in the NFL.

The team figures to be cautions with McCoy as he continues to recover from his toe injury, and there is a chance he may only play a series or two. Anthony Dixon will also miss Friday’s game with a calf injury.

Williams and Brown figure to see most of the running back reps during the game. With Williams already surpassing Brown on the unofficial depth chart, he has a real chance to establish himself as a candidate for number two duties.

Even after Jackson returns to health, it is intriguing to think about what Williams can bring to the offense. He is young, and has explosive ability as evidenced by his college playing career at Florida St.

If the Bills plan to be as run heavy as they claim, there is a good chance whoever sits second in line after McCoy can carve out a nice role in the offense. In deeper leagues, keep an eye on Williams as a long-term stash/handcuff option to McCoy.

Next: LaDainian Tomlinson predicts big year for LeSean McCoy

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